Heidelberg pulls out of drupa, opts for inhouse

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The world's biggest offset press manufacturer Heidelberg has pulled out of the rescheduled global mega show drupa next year, opting instead to host a series of events at its five Print Media Centres around the world.

Inhouse events: Heidleberg opts out of drupa, will run events at its own locations, including its headquarters here in Weisloch
Inhouse events: Heidleberg opts out of drupa, will run events at its own locations, including its headquarters here in Wiesloch / Walldorf

The decison - while no surprise in the current climate - marks a major milestone in the history of both organisations; Heidelberg has been at every drupa since the first in 1951, and until last time as the biggest exhibitor.

Heidelberg has in fact been turning away from trade shows around the world for the past decade - with the exception of the Chinese shows, and the big one, drupa - its last PacPrint was in 2009, its final Ipex in 2010.

Heidelberg said Covid-19 has accelerated the move towards digital and local events. It said that although there is no way of knowing what the impact of corona will be next year, it has to make a decision now. So the company has decided to not participate in any international trade fairs next year, and will thus not be taking part in drupa.

Its decision also has to be seen in the context of its current financial situation, it recorded a whopping 343m loss for the year ending March, and its sales have been impacted severely by Covid. It has just reduced its headcount by 1600 people. Its drupa budget runs into tens of millions of euros. Running inhouse events is a fraction of the cost of taking part in drupa.

The host facility for drupa - Dusseldorf's Messe Centre - will run its first post-Covid fair in September, a caravan show, with others to follow from October onwards. However organisers have to instigate strict hygiene protocols, including mandatory face masks, visitor quotas, and social distancing, to be enforced in the halls by security personnel. No-one yet knows how long such measures will be necessary for. The rescheduled drupa will take place in nine months' time, April 20-30.

Heidelberg's kick-off in its new approach will  be at the Innovation Week from 19 to 23 October this year. Under the slogan Unfold your potential - which was to be its drupa slogan - Heidelberg says it will be presenting a wealth of product innovations that focus on packaging and commercial, including autonomous printing, end-to-end solutions, Smart Print Shop and Push-to-Stop.

The Innovation Week will take place via livestream as well as face-to-face at the Wiesloch / Walldorf location. Heidelberg says it has already had positive experience of using digital channels in its presentation of the innovations that had been planned for this year’s drupa.

The company says it will be investing more in new, virtual trade fair concepts to ensure closer and more individual customer communications as well as in regional events in our growth markets.

"This means we will be able to consistently align ourselves with our customers’ expectations”, says Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO of Heidelberg. “The Innovation Week will now enable us to communicate with our customers as soon as possible and to present our innovation offensive.”

Face-to-face dialogue will continue to be the focus at the Print Media Centers in Wiesloch / Walldorf, Atlanta, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Tokyo, where it can engage with its customers specific needs directly on-site.

At the centres, Heidelberg offers all of its customers and other interested parties market-specific access to product and solution demonstrations, a multitude of possibilities for direct communications with applications specialists, as well as extensive training courses. The Print Media Centers have already become established locations for customers to experience live demonstrations and for validating investments. Heidelberg generally welcomes several thousand customers annually to its own demo spaces around the world.

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